Steven Holl completes Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston

The gathering spaces – including the building’s walkable, sloping roof – provide a civic experience for students and the public alike, with spectacular views of the neighbourhood and the city skyline
– Steven Holl

Work has been completed on the new Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (MFAH), designed by Steven Holl Architects.

The School – the only museum-run institute in the US with programmes that serve students of all ages, from 3-year-olds to adults – is a major component of the museum’s 14-acre redevelopment, masterminded by Holl, which is currently the largest cultural project under construction in North America.

The L-shaped design of the latest building features a sloping, walkable roofline that runs the length of the structure and connects a wide-stepped amphitheatre at its base and a roof garden above.

The interior of the 93,000sq ft (8,600sq m) school features three dozen studios, all illuminated with natural light and designed to serve more than 8,500 children and adults annually, as well as public gallery spaces for exhibitions.

“Our building for the Glassell School is a key part of the overall strategy to shape the public spaces for the entire campus,” said Steven Holl.

“Alternating concrete and glass panels create a porosity between indoors and out, and the gathering spaces – including the building’s walkable, sloping roof – provide a civic experience for students and the public alike, with spectacular views of the neighbourhood and the city skyline.”

Deborah Nevins & Associates and Nevins & Benito Landscape Architecture have also completed the Brown Foundation, Inc. Plaza, a public gateway to the museum’s entire campus, which extends onto the School’s roof.

The plaza provides the dramatic setting for a reflecting pool, a shaded seating area and two monumental public sculptures: Cloud Column (1998–2006), a 32-foot-high stainless steel form by Anish Kapoor; and Eduardo Chillida’s stacked-granite Song of Strength (1966).

Commenting on the completed projects, Gary Tinterow, director of the MFAH, said: “As we reveal not only a glorious new building for the Glassell School, but also a public plaza, large fountain, amphitheater, and roof garden, I think Houstonians will quickly grasp that our project intends to create a new destination for the city.”

Next to open as part of the campus revamp will be the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation, designed by Lake|Flato Architects, later this year, and the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, a museum extension designed by Holl, in early 2020.

When complete, the campus will boast public plazas; reflecting pools; gardens; improved sidewalks, lighting, and wayfinding; and an “active setting” for visitors to admire its older buildings, designed by the likes of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Rafael Moneo.

The project - largely funded by philanthropists Nancy and Rich Kinder – has been designed to expand the role the museum plays in the daily life of Houston, “not only as a cultural institution but also as an urban oasis open to all.” The redevelopment is projected to generate nearly $334 million in economic activity over 20 years.

The origins of an MFAH school date to 1927, three years after the museum’s 1924 opening. The Glassell School of Art opened in 1979. Now, each year, the school offers more than $100,000 in scholarships and enrols about 7,000 students. Enrollment is expected to grow to 8,500 in the new building, which doubles the space of the original.

An extensive interview with Steven Holl features in the most recent issue of CLADmag, and can be read here.

In his own words
Steven Holl on his work for the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston

Holl’s Nancy and Rich Kinder Building museum extension was originally set to be built on the site of a parking lot owned by the church across the street, with the competition brief calling for the addition of a new seven-storey car park. The Glassell School building was to remain exactly as it was.

“I studied the site, and I decided they shouldn’t be building a car park there, they should just put a layer of parking underground to free up more space. But in order to do that, they would have to tear down the Glassell School,” he told CLADglobal. “We figured out we could do them a new school building about twice the size. So I took a radical decision in the competition, and I told them, ‘This is how I would do it. It’s not what you asked for, but this way you can double the size of your sculpture garden and it will be bigger than the one in Dallas.’

“The great thing about a place like Houston is there’s enough space to spread out,” he continued. “That creates the right kind of circulation. Every time you’re moving around these buildings, you understand where you are, you never get lost and you can regularly see Isamu Noguchi’s gardens and the great white oaks outside.

“Movement is absolutely key to the human experience, and all the best museum experiences are horizontal. In vertical museums, everybody’s always standing by a stupid elevator and there’s something irritating about it because moving through the galleries is not so commodious. With these buildings we had space to breathe, and more opportunities to let the daylight flood in.”

Glassell School of Art  Museum of Fine Arts in Houston  MFAH  Steven Holl Architects  Nancy and Rich Kinder 
Related stories

Steven Holl blames 'corruption in power' for construction industry's failure to embrace renewable energy in hard-hitting interview

Medieval fortress and Apocalypse Tapestry inspire Steven Holl's museum and hotel design for Angers

'Parachutes frozen in the sky': Historic airfield inspires Steven Holl's mixed-use Moscow district

Steven Holl's cloud-inspired Houston art gallery breaks ground

Clocks and clouds inspire Steven Holl's Shanghai culture and health centre

Steven Holl returns with sculptural arts complex in Iowa

Steven Holl wins international prize for his use of daylight in design

FEATURE: Interview – Steven Holl

Work has been completed on the new Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (MFAH), designed by Steven Holl Architects. The School – the only museum-run institute in the US with programmes that serve students of all ages, from 3-year-olds to adults – is a major component of the museum’s 14-acre redevelopment, masterminded by Holl, which is currently the largest cultural project under construction in
CLD,VAT,HAM,AAC,ARC,DES
The roofline connects a wide-stepped amphitheatre at the buildong's base and a roof garden above 
/ Richard Barnes
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6941     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6941     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: GOCO Hospitality
The specialists in designing, developing and operating spa and wellness spaces.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
CLAD people: Vincent Callebaut
"It’s about tracing the evolution of thermal practices"

Eco architect Vincent Callebaut has won a competition to redesign ancient thermal baths in the Savoyard town of Aix-les-Bains, France

The High Line
"Infrastructure is the manifestation of our collective investment in the functioning of our urban places"

FromLA’sRiverProjecttothe transformationofNewYork’sErie CanalBuroHappold’sAliceShay exploressomeoftheworld’smost innovativeadaptiveresuseprojects

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
Interview: Eva Jiricna
Jiricna moved to London for a placement in 1968. She was unable to return to the Czech Republic for two decades
"I look back now and think, how did I have the courage?"

The Czech-born architect on working with Richard Rogers, her friendship with Zaha Hadid and why she turned down Steve Jobs

The architectural concept was inspired by the desert rose
Jean Nouvel Architect
"It has spaces inside that exist nowhere else"

On the National Museum of Qatar

features
Fu has a masters in architecture from Cambridge University
"I wanted to go deeper than the stereotypical concept of lanterns, junks and temples"

Drawing on his childhood memories for the St Regis Hong Kong

WeWork opened its first gym, Rise by We, in New York last year
Dror Benshetrit and Di-Ann Eisnor will head up the team
"We will work to fuse nature, design, technology, and community in our cities in order to measurably improve the lives of citizens"

High profile design hirings for the We Company

The fog sculpture at 140 West Plaza in Downtown Chapel Hill, US
Mikyoung Kim
"Nature isn’t rigid. It’s open-ended; that’s its beauty"

The Boston-based landscape architect on blending art and science to design creative spaces that bring communities closer

featured supplier
Featured Supplier: Crown overhaul changing rooms at Saunton Sands spa
Saunton Sands Hotel in Devon, UK, has completed a £2m expansion of its spa and wellness facilities.
cladkit product news
BD Barcelona Design reveals Cristallo by the late Alessandro Mendini
Cristallo was the last design from acclaimed designer and architect Alessandro Mendini
Lauren Heath-Jones
Design Studio BD Barcelona Design has released Cristallo, a limited-edition cabinet designed by the late architect and designer Alessandro Mendini, ...
Volvo partners with Reef Lab Designs to encourage ocean biodiversity
The tiles are made from marine-grade concrete and recycled plastic fibres
Lauren Heath-Jones
Car manufacturer Volvo has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create an environmentally-friendly ...
Baux creates plant-based acoustic panels
Baux has worked with scientists from the Royal Institute of Technology to create Baux Acoustic Pulp, a plant-derived acoustic solution
Lauren Heath-Jones
Baux, an acoustic products brand based in Sweden, has developed a line of biodegradable acoustic panels, using a plant-based material ...
cladkit product news
Alusid's Sequel collection combines craftsmanship and sustainability says founder
The Sequel collection is billed as the 'most waste-efficient and sustainable' on the market
Lauren Heath-Jones
Alusid, a creator of eco-friendly surfaces, has partnered with Parkside to launch the Sequel range, the brand's first collection of ...
Water inspires Zaha Hadid Design x Rosenthal collaboration
The collection consists of three smaller collections: Weave, Strip and Lapp. Weave was inspired by 'the fluid lines of Zaha Hadid's sketching hand'
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with porcelain manufacturer Rosenthal to create a new collection of vases. Called the Lapp collection, ...
Paul Kelley pushes 'technical boundaries' with modular furniture cube system
The system is designed to enable users to create multifunctional, adaptable pieces, where they are in complete control of the design and function of their furniture
Lauren Heath-Jones
British designer Paul Kelley has created a modular magnetic cube furniture system that enables users to create multifunctional, adaptable pieces, ...
cladkit product news
Tom Dixon Studio to relaunch iconic Pylon chair
Pylon was first designed more than 20 years ago
Lauren Heath-Jones
Originally conceived in his metal workshop in the early 90's, the Pylon chair was Dixon's attempt to create the world's ...
Mater partners with Ditzel family to create eco-friendly furniture using reclaimed plastic
The furniture uses plastic from recycled fishing nets
Lauren Heath-Jones
Mater, an ethical design brand based in Denmark, has launched a furniture collection made from plastic reclaimed from the ocean. ...
David Rockwell partners with Jim Thompson for dream-inspired fabric collection
Rockwell has designed 12 multi-use fabrics inspired by dreams with long-time collaborator Jim Thompson
Lauren Heath-Jones
Renowned architect David Rockwell has created a collection of fabrics with long-time collaborator Jim Thompson. Called Dreams, the collection was ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates